(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Animal Charming, or the Subjugation of Animals by means of Charms, Spells, or Drugs"

STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



THE IRISH PENNY JOURNAL. 



317 



a great deal of trouble, and many men to tend them during 
the time of their burning, that the fire may descend even and 
leisurely, whereby the tar may have time to soak out of the 
wood, and settle down into the pit. As it comes from the 
wood it is pure tar, but in the pit it mixes with water, which 
issues from the wood also ; therefore it is afterwards clarified. 
— Life of Sir Dudley North. 

Aurora Boreaxis — According to Crantz, ithe Green- 
landers hold the northern lights for a game of tennis, or for 
a dance of departed souls ; and this opinion is not a whit more 
irrational than the superstition of the oriental nations, the 
Greeks and Romans, and all the unenlightened people of the 
middle ages, who, in the aurora borealis, and other fiery me- 
teors, saw fighting armies, flaming swords, chariots and spears, 
battles and blood, and even thought that they heard the clash- 
ing of arms and the sound of martial music. In the rainbow 
the ancient inhabitants of the north discovered a bridge from 
earth to heaven, and called it the bridge of the gods, which 
was watched by a dog, whom no art could elude, and whose 
auditory faculty was such, that he could hear the grass grow 
or the wool on the sheep's back ; the Kamschatkadales make 
of it a new garment for their aerial spirits, edged with fringes 
of red-coloured seal-skin, and leather thongs of various gaudy 
dyes. 



THE ISLE OF SAINTS. 

" Primus ordo sanctissimus ; secundus ordo sanctior ; tertius sanctus. 
Primus sicut sol ardescit ; secundus sicut luna ; tertius sicut stellse." — 
See the ancient catalogue of the three classes of Irish saints, as published 
by Usher and Lanigan. 

There lived in Erin's hallowed borders, 

In days of yore, three saintly Orders. 

And first, the simply holy :— They 

Shed like the stars a flickering ray. 

The second — holieb— poured a light 

Moon-like, subdued and calmly bright. 

The third, or holiest of all. 

Shone like the sun— or like Saint Paul. 

But, oh, the state of man's unrest 
In good 1 — the last were first and best. 
The middle but a term between 
The purest and the least serene ; 
Less than the greatest — greater far 
Than those whose emblem is the star. 
"Waning they ran a downward race, 
With fainter faith and lessening grace, 
Till, reaching to the stage most lowly, 
The least and latest were the Holy. 

Oh, that they there had staid '. — that sin 
Had, to this swept and garnished inn 
Returning, found the entrance barred, 
And Faith still keeping watch and ward ! — 
Alas ! — they slept in Ease's bower ; 
They could not '* watch one little hour." 
The stars their ineffectual light 
In slumber sealed. • The thief by night 
Entered ; and o'er the rich domain 
Sowed tares among the better grain. 
Sin flourished ; — poverty and strife 
Embittered all the charms of life ; 
And passion, with unbounded sway, 
Swept sun and moon and stars away. 

And yet not ever such, sweet Isle, 
Shall be thy fate. The stars shall smile 
Again upon thy valleys green, 
Again the moon shall beam serene 
Upon thy mountains ; and the bright 
Celestial sun clothe thee with light, 
With plenty bless, and warm and cheer 
Thy long-delayed rmllenial year. 

Even'now the sacred morning dawns, 

The clouds are fleeting' from thy lawns ; 

And, as light thickens in the sky, 

Lo ! Riot and Intemperance fly ; 

And chaste sobriety imparts 

Her eup, and Industry his arts. 

Peace, Love, and Holiness once more 

Row their sweet ark towards thy shore ; 

And Heaven renews the favouring smile 

That made thee once the Saintly Isle. N 



ANIMAL CHARMING, 
OR THE SUBJUGATION OF ANIMALS BY MEANS OF 
CHARMS, SPELLS, OR DRUGS. 
Third and Concluding Article. 
In my last paper I endeavoured to show how exceedingly 
absurd and unfounded was the notion of the Abbe Dubois and 
Denon, that the serpent-charmers of India were and are a 
set of juggling impostors, who practise on the credulity of the 
vulgar, and vainly set forward pretensions to an art which 
has no actual existence, and which, consequently, possesses 
no legitimate claims on the attention of the philosophic in- 
quirer. I now wish to bring all that I would, observe upon 
this very curious subject to a conclusion. I acknowledge my 
inability to furnish my readers with a thorough explanation 
of the means by which these wonders are performed; but I 
think I may be able, at all events, to suggest such hints as 
may place them on the direct path to the attainment of the 
knowledge they desire ; after which, nothing will be necessary 
but some degree of research and perseverance to afford them 
a complete gratification of their wishes. 

It is evident, that whatever may be the supplementary 
means employed in serpent-charming, music is necessary to 
its accomplishment. I should not be satisfied on this point 
were it merely dependent upon the assertions of the jug- 
glers themselves, as in such case it might not unnaturally 
be set down as a mere external cloak for some more important 
secret which the performers did not wish to be discovered ; 
and for this reason I made the observation in my first article 
on this subject, that the precise importance of the music in 
these operations was not as yet entirely apparent. I wish it 
to be understood, however, that although the degree of impor- 
tance in which music should be held as an adjunct to the 
charming of snakes, or as a primary part of the process, has 
not as yet been ascertained by those who have investigated 
or endeavoured to investigate the business, and published the 
results of their inquiries, I for my part am fully satisfied 
on the subject. To return, however, to our more immediate 
matter of discussion. 

Many have conceived that serpent-charming depends in the 
first instance upon the snakes being previously deprived of 
their fangs, and thus rendered innocuous. This opinion I 
have already demonstrated as palpably erroneous. Others, 
again, hold that the jugglers possess a power, by eating cer- 
tain herbs, or chewing the leaves or roots of certain plants, of 
rendering themselves proof against animal poisons. In order 
to render themselves perfectly secure, it is said that their 
practice is to chew the herbs, to inoculate various parts of 
their body with the juice, and even bathe themselves in water 
in which these herbs have been steeped. It is supposed that 
the bodies of the charmers thus become not merely proof 
against the most deadly poison should they chance to be 
bitten, but that those thus prepared exhale from their persons 
an odour which produces a benumbing or stupifying effect 
upon the reptiles, and renders them an easy capture. Whether 
or not it be true that such is the case, we know that the 
Psylli not merely profess the power of charming snakes, but 
also that of curing by spells, and the application of certain 
herbs, such as have been bitten by them. We are informed 
by the historian and biographer Plutarch, that Cato in his 
march through the desert took with him many of those persons 
called Psylli (then a distinct tribe, though at the present day 
that name is applied indiscriminately to all professing the art 
of serpent-charming) to suck out the poison from the wounds 
of any of his soldiers that might chance to be bitten by any 
of the numerous venomous serpents which infested his route. 
The powers of the Psylli were then always attributed to 
magic, and the performers themselves took care to confirm 
that opinion by accompanying the application of remedies to 
their patients with muttered spells or elaborately wrought 
and imposing incantations. This is a testimony respecting the 
ancient repute in which charmers were held, not lightly to be 
rejected. 

While some travellers are too sceptical, I have likewise to 
complain that others are too credulous. For instance, while 
Dubois and Denon scout the idea of serpents being charmed at 
all, Bruce asserts, and that from minute personal observation, 
that all the blacks of Sennaar are completely armed by nature 
against the bite of either scorpion or viper. " They will," says 
he, " take their horned snakes (there the most common and 
one of the most fatal of the viper tribe) in their hands at all 
times, put them in their bosoms, and throw them at on e 



318 



THE IRISH PENNY JOURNAL. 



another as children nil] balls or apples, during which sport 
the serpents are seldom irritated to bite, or if they do, no 
mischief results from the wound." Of course it must be evi- 
dent that Bruce in this instance ascribed rather too much to 
the bounty of nature, and forgot how far art might have aided 
in producing the appearance which astonished him. 

Don Pedro D'Orbies Y. Vargas, who published in the year 
1791 the result of a series of investigations he instituted to 
ascertain the secret on which serpent-charming depended, 
informs us that it is also extensively practised by the natives 
of South America, and that they produce the wished-for end 
by means of a certain plant named the quacho-mithy, so de- 
signated from its having been first observed to have been 
resorted to by the serpent-hawk, or, as the bird is sometimes 
styled, the " quacho-mithy," and by it sucked, preparatory to 
its encounters with the poisonous reptiles which it fought with 
and destroyed for its prey. Taking the hint from the natur- 
ally and instinctively instructed bird, the Indians chewed the 
plant thus discovered, and inoculated and washed their 
bodies with its juice, rubbing it into punctures made in their 
breasts, hands, and feet; and, thus prepared, they dreaded not 
the bite of the most venomous snake. Don Pedro himself, and 
the domestics of his household, used after these simple precau- 
tions to venture into the thickest woods and the most danger- 
ous meadows, and fearlessly seize in their hands the largest 
and most poisonous serpents; the creatures seemed as if un- 
der the influence of a sort of charm or fascination, and very 
rarely attempted to bite ; and at any rate, even if they did, no 
evil consequence resulted from the wound beyond the tempo- 
rary inconvenience produced by the laceration of the flesh by 
the animals' teeth. 

The same gentleman to whom I was indebted for the anec- 
dote of the encounter with the cobra de capella, mentioned 
in a preceding paper, informed me that he had detected a 
snake-charmer in the act of chewing and inoculating him- 
self with some plant, the name or character of which he 
could not however ascertain, though ho offered the juggler 
a considerable sum for the information. One of the leaves of 
this plant, and the only one he saw, he states to have been 
of along and narrow form, with the sides indented or scol- 
loped, somewhat like those of our own common dandelion. 

Now, it appears to me by no means difficult of deduction 
from the facts brought forward in this and the preceding 
papers on the same subject, that the secret of the snake- 
charmers is dependent upon two ingredients, viz, in the first 
place the employment of an antidote which will not only 
mollifytheeffectsof the reptiles' venom, should the experiment- 
ers happen to be bitten, but, from some peculiar odour which 
it emits, stupifv or intoxicate the snake, and indispose it from 
violence, inclining it rather to appreciate the melody with 
which they are treating it, and luxuriate in hearing of their 
fife ; and, in the second place, the sounds of music which the 
whole class of reptiles appear more or less to be sensible of, 
and which will induce the serpents to quit their holes when 
they come within the sphere of the influence of the intoxicating 
odour, and, abandoning themselves to its effects, fall into a 
state of temporary oblivion, and are taken captive. We our- 
selves are well acquainted with several substances which are 
capable of producing upon such creatures as we are conver- 
sant with in these islands, effects no less astonishing than 
those produced upon the snakes by the charmers of India or 
South America. It is, for instance, a very common thing, 
and an experiment I have not only often seen tried, but have 
tried myself dozens of times, and that with success, to charm 
trout, perch, or roach, with assafcetida. If you sprinkle this 
substance, finely powdered, upon the surface of the water, you 
will presently see the fish crowding to the spot ; and even if 
you rub your hands well with it, and, gradually approaching 
the water, gently immerse them in it, you will ere long find 
the fish attracted towards you, and, losing their natural timi- 
dity, actually permit themselves to be taken. Many have 
imagined that it was upon the use of a certain drug that the 
wonderful power possessed and successfully exerted by Sulli- 
van, the whisperer, depended ; but for my part I think the cir- 
cumstance of Sullivan's son having been unable to produce 
similar effects, although instructed by his father in the mys- 
tery, is sufficient to show that Sullivan's trick depended upon 
some means less certain in operation than the mere employ- 
ment of a drug would be, and in which mechanical dexterity 
and personal bearing occupied places of no mean importance. 
Rat-catchers used formerly to employ certain drugs, or com- 
binations of them, to collect these vermin into one place, and 



thus destroy them wholesale, or to entice them into the trap ; 
and it has been pretended by some worthy members of this 
ancient and mystic calling, that they are possessed of secrets 
by which they can, if they please, draw away all the rats 
from any premises on which they may be employed. I have, 
however, sought after the most talented living professors of 
rat-catching, and I cannot say I have ever witnessed miracles 
equal to that. I have, however, seen a trap placed in a cel- 
lar haunted by rats, and left there all night, filled next morning 
with these vermin to the number of thirty, and surrounded by 
a host of others, who actually could not enter from want of 
room ! I have seen a tame white rat smeared with a certain 
composition, let loose in a vault, and in less than half an hour 
return, followed by at least half a dozen others, who appeared 
so enamoured of the white-coloured decoy, or of some scent 
that hung about him, that they suffered themselves to be taken 
alive in the rat-catcher's hand, and never so much as offer to 
bite. I purchased this secret from an old rat-catcher, and 
have much pleasure in communicating it to the public, and 
more especialy to the discriminating patrons of the Irish 
Penny Journal. It consists of the following simple prepa- 
ration : — 

Powdered assafcetida 2 grains. 

Essential oil of rhodium 3 drachms. 

Essential oil of lavender 1 scruple. 

Oil of aniseed 1 drachm. 

Let the assafoetida be first well triturated with the ani- 
seed, then add the oil of rhodium, still continuing to rub the 
material well up together in a mortar, after which add the 
oil of lavender, and cork up the mixture in a close bottle until 
required. The method of employing this receipt is very sim- 
ple, and consists merely in smearing the decoy rat with it, 
in mixing a few drops of it with a little flour or starch, and 
employing the paste thus formed as a bait for the trap ; and 
if you anoint your hands with this mixture, you may put them 
into a cage full of rats without the slightest danger of a bite. 
I have done so repeatedly myself, and never got bitten unless 
when I had prepared the composition improperly, or displayed 
timidity in proceeding to handle the animals — a defect of de- 
meanour which appears capable of counteracting the working 
of the charm. 

The liking which rats exhibit for the perfume produced by 
the above simple composition is truly wonderful, but will be 
readily admitted, even while as yet its efficacy remains un- 
tested, by any person who has witnessed the passion exhi- 
bited by cats for valerian, or of dogs for galbanum, and after 
much consideration and attentive observation I have come to 
the conclusion that the effects produced by different sub- 
stances upon these animals have a common origin, viz, in 
the peculiar odour calling into play the sexual appetite, and 
that too in a more than commonly energetic manner ; of 
course I only mean to apply this latter observation to the 
case of dogs, rats, and cats. I have no intention of thus 
seeking to explain away the effect produced upon serpents or 
fishes by certain odours, accompanied by music ; indeed, in 
these instances I should rather ascribe the effects produced to 
a sort of intoxicating, fascinating influence, bearing no dis- 
tant resemblance to the power exercised towards other ani- 
mals by many of the serpent tribe themselves. The fascina- 
tion of the rattle-snake, for example, seems in a great mea- 
sure to depend upon the agency of a certain intoxicating 
odour which the reptile has the power of producing at pleasure. 
In support of this opinion I may adduce the testimony of 
Major A. Gordon, who thus explains the fascination of ser- 
pents in a paper read before the New York Historical So- 
ciety. He adduced various facts in support of his opinions, 
and amongst the rest mentions a negro, who could by smell 
alone discover a rattle-snake when in the exercise of this 
power, at the distance of two hundred feet, and who, follow- 
ing such indications, never failed of finding some poor animal 
drawn within its vortex, and in vain struggling with the irre- 
sistible influence. By no means remotely allied to charming 
and fascination would appear to be that mysterious and as 
yet doubtful power, animal magnetism, a subject on which I 
shall not dilate, as it hardly falls within the limits indicated by 
the heading of this paper, which has now run to a length 
considerably greater than I contemplated at starting ; and 
consequently I think it time to take my leave, trusting I have 
at least given a clue to the great secret on which depends 
the magical influence of the serpent-charmer. 

H. D. R.